Workers’ Compensation

What is the healing period?

The healing period is the time an employee recuperates after suffering an on-the-job injury or illness. The healing period, as defined by Iowa Code 85.34(1), may indicate the recuperation period associated with an on-the-job accident that results in permanent injury. Healing period (HP) benefits are available to Des Moines workers via Iowa workers’ compensation.  Am I eligible for healing period benefits?  Injured or ill employees are eligible for Healing Period benefits as they recover from a work-related illness or on-the-job accident, provided the injury resulted in a permanent impairment.  How much money am I entitled to through healing period benefits?  You will be eligible for 80 percent of your “spendable weekly earnings.” This is based on your post-tax, “take home” pay. This number cannot exceed ... Read More »

What is temporary partial disability?

Temporary partial disability (TPD) is a weekly benefit offered through Iowa workers’ compensation. TPD, as outlined in Iowa Code 85.32(2) to (5), is payable to injured workers able to return to work but in a lower-paid position. The pay decrease must be attributed to injury in order to qualify for TPD benefits.  For example, consider an injured construction worker in Des Moines who typically oversees crane operations. He may be able to return to work after a few weeks of recovery. However, instead of assuming his specialty position, he must take on a lower-paid job that is less physically demanding.  This worker likely would qualify for TPD payments. Below are some of the key points to understand about Iowa workers’ compensation TPD benefits.  Am I ... Read More »

Do you have to take sick leave for workers’ compensation?

You do not have to take sick leave if you’re unable to work and are collecting workers’ compensation benefits. Iowa law is very clear on this. In fact, collecting pay via workers’ comp disability (rather than using up your sick leave or vacation time) is one of the goals of the workers’ comp system.  You Still Have the Option of Using Sick Leave  Workers’ comp disability payments are only a percentage of a workers’ full pay. It can be hard for some workers to make ends meet with workers’ comp benefits alone.   You retain the right to use your sick leave and/or vacation time in addition to drawing workers’ comp benefits. It’s not mandatory that you do so, but workers might use this option to ... Read More »

Understanding How Video Surveillance after an Accident Can Impact Your Workers’ Comp Case

Employers and workers’ comp insurance companies might use video and other forms of surveillance to discredit employee claims. Workers’ comp fraud costs about $5 billion a year, so it’s not without reason that they investigate the truthfulness of employees’ claims.  However, it’s not only employees who are involved in fraud; sometimes employers try to circumvent the law and wrongly deny valid claims. Oftentimes, they take the video footage out of context or blow it out of proportion, ruining an injured worker’s chances compensation.  Employers’ Motivation for Using Surveillance  Why do employers or their insurance companies use surveillance tactics? They might tell you it’s to verify the authenticity of a worker’s claim. But in some cases they do it to find a way to bust the ... Read More »

What is temporary total disability?

Temporary total disability is when an injured worker is totally unable to work for a period of time. During this span of time, an employee cannot return to a lower-paying job or light-duty work. As a result, the employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation disability benefits.  What benefits are available to an employee with temporary total disability?  Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are payable when an injury prevents an employee from working for more than three days. These benefits start on the fourth day of disability and continue until whichever of the following occurs first: the employee returns to work or is medically capable of returning to employment significantly similar to the original job.  If the disability lasts longer than 14 days, the three-day ... Read More »

What does maximum medical improvement mean?

Maximum medical improvement (MMI) means that someone has reached the point in which his/her medical condition isn’t expected to get better, change or progress, even with additional care or treatment. In other words, the condition is stabilized.  This can be a huge source of contention in a workers’ compensation case for several reasons. As a result, it may necessitate assistance from a lawyer.  How does maximum medical improvement impact a workers’ compensation claim?  One impact it can have on a worker’s comp case is that temporary benefits may only be available until the injured worker has reached MMI. Whether it’s temporary total or temporary partial disability, these benefits end when the employee returns to work. It could be a return to the same job or ... Read More »

Why should I keep a pain diary after my work injury?

Pain is one of those unseen repercussions of an injury. It can be difficult to prove, which is why it’s a good idea to keep a pain diary if injured during the scope of employment.  Importance of a Pain Diary after a Work Injury   Those injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This includes payment of all necessary and reasonable medical treatment. At some point, a doctor typically makes the decision as to when an employee can return to work, or if the employee can return performing light duty work.  Sometimes the employee isn’t ready to return to work when the doctor indicates he or she is. One of the reasons could be chronic pain that would make performing job tasks difficult, ... Read More »

The Role of Hearings and Mediation in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ comp insurers may choose to deny claims or offer low settlements for various reasons. For example, they might argue that the injury isn’t work-related or isn’t as severe as the employee claims.  When there is a dispute surrounding a workers’ compensation claim, injured employees might first attempt to work with the insurance company or their employer to resolve it. However, a dispute may lead to a hearing or mediation.  Generally, disputes arise concerning the worker’s right to benefits or the types of benefits that are available. Whatever the issue, if the employer or insurer cannot come to an agreement with the employee, further action may be necessary.  Let’s say the dispute is concerning payment of medical benefits. Employers are expected to furnish all reasonable ... Read More »

Preparing for a Workers' Compensation Hearing

When an initial decision on your workers’ compensation claim appears unfair, you have the right to request a hearing with the workers’ compensation commissioner. A hearing is a formal matter and requires proper conduct and preparation.  Most injured workers have never participated an administrative hearing, and the process can be intimidating without a knowledgeable party on your side. Working with an attorney can calm your nerves and help you prepare for your hearing.  Supporting Documents and Evidence to Bring to Your Hearing  Once you file your request for a hearing, you should start building your case immediately. The commissioner or deputy commissioner should have copies of the documentation already filed, but it’s always a good idea to have your own copies of your injury report, ... Read More »

Stages of a Workers' Compensation Appeal

When a workers’ compensation claim is rejected or denied, you have the right to appeal the decision with the workers’ compensation commissioner’s office. While this process seems straightforward, there are several stages of action between starting an appeal and obtaining a new decision which can take months to complete. An attorney can be your advocate during this time and assist you through all the stages of the appeal.  Appealing a Workers’ Comp Claim Decision  The Iowa Workforce Development department suggests that an employee who feels his claim was unfairly decided should dispute the matter first with his employer and the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.  If negotiations with these parties do not yield results, or you feel the result was unfair, it is advised that ... Read More »

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